The mother of a slain Iranian protester has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after she was arrested for demanding justice for her son on social media.
Mahsa Yazdani had been persistently seeking justice for her son Mohammad Javad Zahedi, 20, after he was shot during protests in the northern city of Sari in September last year. According to his family, Zahedi was shot several times at close range in the back and head, allegedly by security forces
She was arrested in August this year as she expressed solidarity with other families of those killed during nationwide protests that swept Iran in 2022 in the wake of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who died in custody having been arrested by Iran’s morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly.
Disclosing the details of her sentencing, Yazdani’s attorney Meysam Mousavi said she was convicted on charges of blasphemy, incitement, insulting the supreme leader, and spreading anti-regime propaganda. The total sentence was 13 years, with five years to be served without parole.
Mitra Zahedi, the daughter of Yazdani, shared in an Instagram story asking: “What will happen to my three-year-old brother? Who is responsible for all this injustice?"
Iran’s Center for Human Rights also issued a statement denouncing her “disgraceful” sentencing.
“She and hundreds of mothers in Iran have been blocked from pursuing justice for their murdered loved ones, while themselves being persecuted for simply raising their voices,” the rights group said in an Instagram post.
“The blatant injustice in this case is a stark reminder of the urgent need for international attention and action to address human rights violations and support those who bravely seek justice in Iran.”
The human rights situation in Iran has also drawn the concern of the UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, who in a report said that seven men have been executed in Iran in relation to or for participating in nationwide protests sparked by Amini’s death.
In all seven cases, information received by the UN human rights office “consistently indicated that the judicial proceedings did not fulfill the requirements for due process and a fair trial under international human rights law”, Mr Guterres said. “Access to adequate and timely legal representation was frequently denied, with reports of coerced confessions, which may have been obtained as a result of torture.”
The secretary-general cited information received by the UN rights agency that between 17 September 2022, and 8 February 2023, an estimated 20,000 individuals were arrested for participating in the protests.
“It is particularly concerning that most of the individuals arrested may have been children, given that the reported average age of those arrested was estimated to be 15 years, according to the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” he said.
The government said “a minimum of” 22,000 people arrested during the protests were pardoned, but the secretary-general said it was difficult to verify the arrest and release numbers.
Mr Guterres expressed concern about a number of individuals who were pardoned and then received summonses on new charges or were rearrested, including women activists, journalists and members of minority groups.